By Dr Randy Kidd DVM PhD
(Pictured above: Model: Thumbelina Rawat; © Benefit Publishing Pvt Ltd)
Use oats topically and in pet foods to leverage the numerous nutritional and curative benefits they offer
More formally known as Avena sativa, inexpensive and readily available oats have a long list of benefits, from simply nutritional to curative, for many conditions. It’s not surprising that oats have a long history of adding to our animals’ health, as well as our own, whether taken internally or applied directly to the skin.
Increase fibre intake and make use of oats’ medicinal qualities by mixing cooked oatmeal into pet food several times a week. Start out with small amounts and increase to about a tablespoonful or so for every 4.5 kg of weight
Benefits of Oats for Dogs
Oats are nutritionally beneficial, and their healing powers can be utilised by applying oaten teas or poultices directly to the skin. To get the inner benefits of oats all you have to do is cook some oatmeal and add it to your pet’s food. Besides offering nutritional benefits, oats are also nervine (herbal tonic for nerves) and can offer relief in disease treatment. Oats also contain the antitumor compound b-sitosterol.
Simply put, oats are nutritious, being naturally high in “good” nutrients and low in “bad” ones.
Oats are high in:
- Protein (interestingly, wild oats contain 27 to 37% protein while cultivated varieties average at about 17%). According to the World Health Organisation, oat protein is equivalent in quality to soy protein. Thus, equal to meat, milk and egg protein.
- Soluble fibre (the fibre that helps keep cholesterol levels low).
- Levels of iron, manganese, zinc, and B vitamins (pantothenic acid, B5, and folate, B9).
Oats are low in:
- Gluten (some is present, but not nearly as much as in wheat)
- Genetically Modified Organisms (so far, oats are not grown using GMOs)
Oats benefit several body organs and systems, including skin, the nervous system, stomach, spleen, lungs, and the urinary and reproductive systems. Herbal qualities of oats include:
Digestive & Hormonal Aid
Oats act as a digestive aid to calm the intestinal tract. Oats can be used to achieve hormonal balance, as well as, as a uterine tonic.
Oats are also cholesterol-lowering and good for treating a wide variety of diseases in humans and animals, including inflammatory conditions, mental or physical exhaustion, depression, dyspepsia, insomnia, fevers, sexual dysfunctions, etc.
Oats can also be beneficial when applied externally (topically). These unique health benefits of oats in grooming can include:
- Anti inflammatory and calming— soothes itchiness and eczema, thus helping calm the animal while he heals.
- Healing— high levels of minerals and vitamins in the seeds may help with skin healing.
How to use Oats for Pet Skin Problems
As a Soak
For anti itch and anti inflammatory actions, consider a soak. Put a handful of oatmeal in a nylon sock and attach the sock over a tap. Fill a tub with water filtered through the oat-filled sock. Let the pet soak in the tub for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse well and dry.
As Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo can be used to help dry, oily-itchy skin. Roast some ground or rolled oats until slightly brown. When they have cooled to room temperature, work them into the pet’s hair so they come into contact with the skin. Let stand for about 15 to 30 minutes, then comb out. Try this on a small area first, as some hair coats don’t lend themselves well to this type of application.
For “hot spots” or other localised skin irritations, make a slurry of ground oats and water, wrap the slurry in cheese cloth or a tea bag (available from health food stores). Or, soak a clean washcloth in the mixture, and apply as a poultice directly to the affected area. Leave on for 15 minutes or so. Repeat several times a day.
Healing herbs such as calendula, chamomile, or lavender can be added to the original mixture to further enhance healing.
How to add Oats to your Pet’s Diet
Through Oat Tea
Use about a tablespoon of organic oats, steep for 15 to 20 minutes in a cup of hot water. Pour enough of this oat tea over the pet’s food to moisten it. Use several times a week for its beneficial effects on the nervous and intestinal systems.
Increase fibre intake and make use of oats’ medicinal qualities by mixing cooked oatmeal into pet food several times a week. Start out with small amounts and increase to about a tablespoonful or so for every 4.5 kg of weight.
Grow your own Crop
Oats are easy to grow, indoors or out. Simply stick some organic seeds in the ground (or in a pot or tray if growing them indoors), add water and sunlight, and wait a few weeks until the stems are a couple of inches tall. Let your pet eat from the crop, or harvest with scissors and mix the cut leaves into his food. Oat sprouts are also easy to grow.
You’ll want to use organically grown (wild) oats, whether for dietary or topical use, as the nutritive values of organically grown oats are much higher than commercially produced crops, and you don’t run the potential risk of pesticide or herbicide residue. Plus, organic farming methods are good for the environment.
So, the next time you sit down for an oatmeal breakfast, don’t forget to count your pet in.
|The author holds doctorates in veterinary medicine, and veterinary and clinical pathology. After practising traditional veterinary medicine for 10 years, he established ‘Honoring the Animals’, a holistic practice in Missouri, USA|
Note: Reproduced with permission from Dogs Naturally Magazine, USA. All rights reserved; www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com